Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services
supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text scanned (OCR) by
Melissa K. Graham
Images scanned by Melissa K. Graham
Text encoded by Bryan C. Sinche and Natalia Smith
First edition, 2001
ca. 70 K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
(title page) An Address on the Welfare of the Medical Profession, Delivered Before the State Medical Society, at Warrenton, N. C., on the 20th May, 1868, by the President, S. S. Satchwell, M. D.
S.S. Satchwell, M.D.
Engelhard and Price
Call number Cp 610.6 S25a (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization project, Documenting the American South.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original. The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. Encountered typographical errors have been preserved, and appear in red type.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
All em dashes are encoded as --
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.
Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF THE SOCIETY.
Gentlemen of the Medical Society of the State of North Carolina:
The constitutional term for which you so kindly honored me with the unsolicited office of President is about to expire. In leaving the chair to my worthy successor I propose to observe the custom which assigns to your retiring President the privilege of submitting a few remarks on the WELFARE OF THE, MEDICAL PROFESSION.
Another year has passed, and we are approaching the end of another annual meeting. It is mete that we should consider the condition and prospects of the profession in this State. Our augmented numbers and the increased interest of this meeting afford the best evidence of the vitality, prosperity and success of our honored Association. The circling seasons, unaffected by those political convulsions that now shake the foundations of society, and involve anew the prosperity and happiness of our people, move on in their accustomed regularity, leaving their impressive lights and shadows behind. Our Society meets in stormy political times, amid those demoralizing scenes and depressing circumstances that dishearten the moralist, patriot and christian, and exert a disastrous influence upon the cherished pursuits and professions of men. Our people, already conquered, ruined, crushed, were never so much dispirited as now. In these gloomy times let us demean ourselves according
to the ennobling principles of true manhood. It becomes us as an. integral part of the body politic, as it surely does our fellow-citizens of all callings, so to feel, think, and act in these unequalled days of our poverty and trial, as to do nothing tending in the least to our degradation. The timid may shrink from duty; small and ignoble men may yield their names and service to the impending storm of corruption and demagogism in order to make money and to float smoothly for a season upon the bosom of the seething tide of events; but those of our fellow-citizens who are true to themselves and to their Southern home, in whose bosoms abide the laws of integrity and honor, and the glowing fires of patriotism can never dishonor and degrade themselves by thus surrendering to the seductions of gain or the blandishments of power. While true in our allegiance to the government under which we live, let us be obedient to the existing laws, however distasteful some of them may be, for such allegiance and submission are among the highest duties of the citizen, patriot and christian. Such a faithful discharge of duty is entirely consistent with the suggestions of honor and manhood, and we cannot avoid its responsibilities. In these sad and difficult times, amid the trying circumstances now surrounding our impoverished people, it especially becomes the medical profession so to deport themselves as that personal as well as professional integrity shall be maintained, the advancement and honor of the profession promoted, and our armor at all times ready for any possible conflict that may arise with pain and disease, whether medical or surgical. And it is cheering to know that, in these extraordinary times of depression and financial distress, we are having such a large and interesting meeting.
This Society, conceived in the broadest spirit of science and humanity, moving on from year to year, in scientific triumphs over ignorance, prejudice, disease and death, still struggles nobly onward under all these adverse influences, planting her standards higher and more surely upon the enduring ramparts of usefulness and renown. These annual meetings are full of interest and importance. They cheer the desponding, give courage to the doubtful, nerve the irresolute, and embolden him of strong faith and determination to strike with renewed vigor for the good of humanity and the rights and dignity of his profession. Here we are made happy by the formation of new acquaintances and friendships, as well as by the cementing anew of old ties between those who have so long stood together, heart to heart and shoulder to shoulder in the cause of medical improvement and reform
in North Carolina. Here it is that the class of medical tricksters and demagogues which abound too numerously in our own as well as other professions, find their proper level and just appreciation. No congenial field exists here for their low propensities and underhanded conduct. If, at some careless or unlucky hour, a few of them have imposed upon this Society by stealthily creeping into an unworthy membership, it was done for the purpose of getting their characters whitewashed, and the sooner we can rid ourselves of all such trash and encumbrances the better it will be for the honor of the profession. They can never sport to advantage upon this theatre of intellectual worth and learning, nor impose upon us those wiley tricks and empty effusions of their superficial minds, which are so current at home in deceiving too credulous patients and in flattering from low motives of gain from women, old and young, and all others who are weak enough to give a listening ear to their false statements of miraculous cures that were never performed, of remedies that never were used, of services rendered that superhuman power alone can bestow.
Here, where intellect is honored, where principle is sustained, where science and learning are appreciated, where merit is rewarded, there is no fellowship for such men--no favors to extend but silence, disgust, contempt for that brazen-faced effrontery that polished art and low cunning, and those plausible manners which these mountebanks, these mean and deceptive medical men to be found in all neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities, rely upon as means to obtain practice and advance themselves. These allusions are not so much to any of the members of the pseudo-medical systems of the day as to our regular medical brethren, so-called, of the allopathic school, who are fond of boasting of their love of science, who love to tell of some medical meeting they attended; who may have a diploma hanging in their offices, but who really have no love for their profession, and are at heart opposed to its improvement. Here it is that prejudice surrenders to the demands of enlightened progress, and the social pleasures enjoyed, the intellectual efforts made, the practical knowledge obtained, enable us to return home in better humor with ourselves, loving each other more, renewed in professional devotion, and with minds more ready to receive, and act upon reason and truth from whatever source they come. Besides such liberalizing influences, these meetings are in accordance with the demands of our nature for retrospection and anticipation--are periods when pausing we
may glance at the cloudy fragments of the past, as the solemn forms of warning and encouragement are presented and looking forward to the future, unformed and uncertain, fringed, though it may not be at present, with the silver lining, of hope, we can still take council together as to how we may so shape it that men may know we, too, have lived and struggled and advanced a profession next to the best and noblest with which God has favored the human race. The discouragements incident to the medical practitioner of the South, since the close of the war, render these periodical assemblages fine occasions for fostering our loyalty and enthusiasm for the profession. Leaving behind us at home those feverish cares, those chilling thoughts and harrassing circumstances incident to our daily routine of petty medical duties, it is indeed refreshing to meet one another socially at least once a year, and at the same time engage professionally in the work of obtaining from each other new facts in the science of medicine, brought together by the varied observation and experience of our numerous members. These meetings furnish us fine opportunities for laying up a new supply of that earnestness of purpose and fresh impulse to exertion so necessary to the practitioner who, unwilling to lag behind, is determined to keep pace with the progress of science and to meet the demands of an age more fruitful than any of its predecessors in mental effort and physical improvement.--These associations furnish comfort and add to the strength of our medical pride and faith so necessary to be sustained in these difficult times, full of trials and discouragements to even those of the best manhood and highest christian fortitude.
Forgetting for a few days that mortification which ensues from the increasing success latterly of empiricism and demagogism in all professions, we are here aided in placing as well a proper appreciation upon merit, worth and learning, as upon our own responsibilities, and are enabled to show to the world that we acknowledge the stringency of other duties than those involved in the collection of medical fee bills. Thus actuated by high motives, coming here as harvesters to garner up whatever the toils, failures and success of members may lay upon this common shrine of the profession of the State, this mutual action and reaction upon one another of our social natures, intellectual powers and professional attainments, is in all respects useful and ennobling. Making experiments and discoveries as we can, and keeping up with all new facts and improvements in physiology, chemistry, medicine, pathology, therapeutics and surgery,
we are enabled to feel with more force, and to carry out better practice, that instinctive, inextinguishable desire of noble minds, to strike with their best strength in the cause of truth and enlightenment. In this way it is that we are more inclined to bear in mind, at all times, the happy reflection that in our profession no enduring reputation is attainable, except in direct ratio to our usefulness. And it is equally to be remembered that such usefulness is not like a hot-house plant, of rapid, spontaneous growth, and easily destroyed by the frost of some adverse change of weather, but it comes only by long years of study, observation, thought, labor, and the uniform practice of the unchanging laws of integrity and honor. Such a reputation is built upon no uncertain or sandy basis, but the foundations are laid upon such a rock, and the superstructure composed of such materials that the building can withstand any surging waves of opposition. This axiom in our profession bears with it the consoling, ennobling truth that though empiricism and demagogism may captivate for a season, and attain a mushroom success, yet it is only solid merit, scientific worth, high attainments and manly principles that can withstand the rough usage of life, and the storms and changes of time, and build up for any medical man a name of enduring usefulness and renown. This is the price to be paid for lasting fame and distinction in our ranks, and hence it is that the promptings of philanthropy, as well as the suggestions of policy, urge us on in the same path, and to the same noble ends.
The influence of this Society upon the cause of medical science and theprofession of the State, and the necessity of renewed efforts to its improvement comprise a subject of so much importance as to justify me in now dilating more at length upon it.
About nineteen years ago there was a more general awakening of the profession of the State to its improvement, and to the formation of an organization that would give to their labors a more extended usefulness, and by concert of action confer upon them an influence which individually they were unable to exert. Accordingly, in April, 1849, a few leading and enterprising medical gentlemen assembled, after due notice, in convention in the city of Raleigh, for the purpose, of organizing a State Medical Society. They entered upon this important work amid discouragements sufficient to appal less heroic minds, adopted a Constitution, and put in working order the North Carolina Medical Society. In spite of trials and difficulties of no ordinary character, this voluntary association has continued to gain gradually in strength, numbers
and influences for good to the present time. Besides others who participated in this early movement the names of the following pioneers are here recorded, viz: Edmund Strudwick, Fabius J. Haywood, William George Thomas, Johnson B. Jones, Charles E. Johnson, James E. Williamson, William H. McKee, N. J. Pittman, William G. Hill, James A. McRae. These gentlemen issued an address to the profession of the State, stating their objects to be the advancement of medical science and the elevation of the profession. In this appeal for co-operation they stated that "every educated physician in the State acknowledges with the deepest regret that, under the combined operations of corrupt influences, our honorable profession has been injured in its standing--our titles are assumed and our privileges claimed by charlatans of every class. Will you then join us in exposing the impertinence of the assumption and the dishonesty of the claim, and come out in organized bodies and unite with the Medical Society of the State of North Carolina, where your true character will appear in its code of ethics, and the hue of science once more shine on your tarnished escutcheon ? This appeal, we wish it distinctly to be understood, is addressed to every gentleman in the practice of medicine, whether a graduate or not, who feels in his own bosom a response to its truth, its justice, and its necessity. We are calling for a spirit of improvement,--let him answer who has it. The general qualifications for membership can offend no one who has that elevated spirit, and others you will willingly leave on that degraded level from which we exhort you to depart with us."
Such was the spirit and aims of the founders and early members of the Society. The quotation I have made may well be wrung upon the profession in these more recent days of demoralization. It was attended, as was the formation of the Society, with most favorable results, for in the following year the membership was largely increased, and the profession aroused more than ever to the duty of medical improvement and reform. It has steadily increased in membership until our catalogue numbers near three hundred members. The memories of those I have mentioned are imperishably connected with the rise and progress of the association, which would long since have perished but for the earnestness and unselfish devotion of these and other early and steadfast supporters. I repeat that the success of this organization, its triumphs from year to year over obstacles and opposition from within as well as without the regular profession--the useful fruits it has borne to the cause of medical science and to the health and lives of the people--is the best proof of its importance
and of the laudable enterprise and disinterested zeal of those who have adhered to its destinies through its many struggling years. It has long since ceased to be an experiment. It rests upon a permanent basis, and will so continue as long as those who direct its course are influenced by the same liberal and just principles of action, the same high regard for science, integrity and humanity that have been the guiding motives and aims of those who have thus far kept it alive and prosperous. It was founded and has been carried on in that necessity of our nature, and of the profession at once recognised by the intelligent votary of science. It confers none of those political advantages or distinctions that invite applications for membership from political office seekers and ambitious politicians ; was instituted upon no motives to the formation of schemes for conferring wealth, power, or aggrandizement, upon any of its members; nor has it ever sought to give weight or support to any clique, corporation, or section of medical men, or any popular medical dogma of the day. Its existence is owing to the aforesaid demand for improvement, and to that isolation and separation of the members of our profession in their daily avocations, which are more strongly marked in the medical than in any other profession. It is true that this isolation and separation is not entirely selfish or voluntary, or dependent upon casual circumstances, but originates in no inconsiderable degree from causes connected with some of the natural characteristics of our pursuits.
The medical profession is no Procustean couch. We are not disciples of any paralyzing creed that moulds belief by will, or enslaves will to some phantom authority. We adhere to nothing because it is old, reject nothing because it is new. The Book of Nature is spread out before us, wooing us to an investigation of the puzzling pages of pain, disease and death, in order that suffering humanity may be relieved and medical science promoted. With this grand object and ample aim the wide field of the profession tends to the development of individuality. Memory, imagination, reason, caution, perseverance--each and every mental quality and temperament that impresses characteristic differences upon men as it predominates, finds abundant material for exercise amid those complex vital phenomena, those varied and complicated relations of disease that demand for their elucidation all the appliances of our moral and intellectual natures, all the resources of science.--This necessarily gives rise to differences in experience, modes of thought, objects of interest, purposes of action. To this
add the habit of self-reliance, engendered and fostered by the unshared responsibilities of practice common to a majority of practitioners, especially in our sparsely populated State, and we can the more readily account for much of that isolation and separation unhappily too common in the profession.
But this free individual development is not at variance,. nevertheless, with those sympathies and kindly feelings, and that personal integrity and professional devotion which should ever characterize the medical man, and which this Society seeks to promote. The want of such union and concert of action stifles talent and enterprize, and is a barrier to an appreciation of worth and usefulness. It was under such circumstances, as well as from an appreciation of the power of associated effort in the promotion of our science, and in the counteraction of corrupting influences that were undermining the foundations of the profession and lowering its standard, that the Society was instituted.
The men who thus came to the rescue and have maintained their early devotion, have impressed themselves upon the community as physicians distinguished for those virtues and qualifications characteristic of the foremost followers of a science that in all ages has justly claimed a large portion of the best hearts, finest intellects, and greatest learning. Some of them have, paid the great debt of nature--died in professional harness, leaving as most worthy of emulation the bright legacy of an example that speaks, and will continue to speak, in honor and praise, though the authors are dead.--Dr. Cameron, of Fayetteville; Dr. Dickson, of Wilmington; Dr. Graham, of Duplin; Dr. Williamson, of Caswell, and others of our deceased savans, will live in enduring lustre as long as there is an appreciation of intellectual worth, superior attainments, professional skill, and high-toned personal and professional bearing. Let presumptuous ignorance, empirical pretension, and unprincipled ambition hide their heads in confusion and shame at the mention of the names and example of men like these who were pillars of the Society, ornaments of the profession, and the pride of the State.--The influences and services of such men have added much to the medical literature of the State, to the advancement of learning, and to that esprit de corps of the profession that was so low prior to the existence of this body.
The various addresses and papers presented to the Society from year to year, the many and elaborate medical discussions and reports verbal and written, of an interesting character that have come before us from time to time, would, if collected and published, form large and valuable volumes
that would be highly creditable to the medical reputation of the State. Even the comparatively few publications that have been made reflect credit upon the profession, while, the modesty of so many, who have made excellent addresses and read valuable papers, in refusing the publication of their productions, is in accordance with the proverbial modesty of genuine professional men of North Carolina.
The influence of the Society has been highly salutary, not alone upon our own members, but also in its influences upon those who have studiously declined to apply for membership. Many an unworthy practitioner and sneaking medical demagogue seeing the high standard of personal integrity and professional devotion that we are erecting, and stung by the criticisms of that enlightened public sentiment that has always sustained us, has become so ashamed of himself and of his tricks and meannesses that, from ceasing to do evil, he has learned to do well. As useful adjuncts in this work of medical improvement may be mentioned the North Carolina Medical Journal and the State Board of Medical Examiners. Both were the legitimate offspring of the Society. The Journal and Board, as well as the Society, were necessarily suspended during the war, as were so many of the best institutions of the South during that terrible period. The prompt reorganization of both the Board and Society, soon after the close of that mighty struggle, shows a gratifying appreciation of the necessity of the former, and the services of the latter by the profession of the State. The Board, as is well known, was instituted upon the low estimate of qualifications, moral, intellectual, and professional, deemed by a majority of the Medical Colleges of the country sufficient for the swarms of graduates annually sent forth to cure the infirmities and ills of humanity. The incompetency of so many rendered it but just to human health and life to establish a competent tribunal by which to judge of the fitness of candidates for medical patronage in North Carolina.
The low but just estimate placed by the public, as well as by this Society, upon the mere possession of a medical diploma--so low is now and has been, the standard of graduation, and reckless the competition among the incorporated Medical Colleges of the United States, that such a protective measure became absolutely necessary. Now no medical man can collect his bills by law unless he has a certificate of moral and professional qualifications from this Medical Board, composed of gentlemen every way competent it is hoped for the delicate and responsible duties imposed upon them. The Board, who are only authorized to examine those who have
commenced practice since it was legally instituted, are not solicitous as to where an applicant graduated, or even whether he has graduated at all--the question for decision being whether he is possessed of the qualifications necessary for practice.
The Medical Journal, as you know, has not been revived, but it is just and reasonable to predict that the day is not distant when such an organ of the medical profession will again be established that will take the same high grounds for the public good, and for the rights and improvement of the profession in North Carolina, that are incumbent upon our Society and Medical Board.
Thus it is then, gentlemen, that the spirit and aims of the North Carolina Medical Society have become infused into the profession all over the State, and that the doctrines of our acknowledged code of ethics are so potent for good. It has been more influential in uniting and improving the profession than all other means combined; given to the public greater confidence in legitimate medicine, and accumulated a vast amount of scientific facts and useful knowledge that have been of much service in the treatment of disease and, in promoting the health and protecting the lives of the community.
In this connection a word of just compliment to the skill of medical men in our State is not inappropriate. In no spirit of boasting, but with a just pride do I express the conviction that the physicians and surgeons of North Carolina are not excelled by those of any State North or South; whether we consider attainments, accomplishments, skill in diagnosis and treatment, or high personal and professional learning. I repeat, that we have as successful practitioners in medicine, as judicious and skilful operators in surgery, as can be found anywhere, however much to the contrary the example of those patients who go North for professional aid, under the delusive idea that "distance lends enchantment to the view." This statement is not made without deliberation and reliable information. I have the honor of an acquaintance, not only with the leading medical men of our own State, but with many of the most prominent practitioners of other States, particularly those of the largest northern cities, as well as with some of the most distinguished physicians and surgeons of Europe, and I know something of the capacity and reputation of other master spirits in the profession whom I have not seen; and I have no hesitation in declaring that, with the exception of some disadvantages we labor under in the want of better opportunities for preparatory
surgical manipulations and operations, I would feel as safe in trusting my own life or the lives of my family, in the hands of North Carolina physicians and surgeons as I would in the hands of any of those named. During the war the surgeons and assistant surgeons of North Carolina were not excelled by those of any other State. Those medical gentlemen who have left us to practice in other States, or to fill professional chairs in their Medical Colleges and Universities, maintain themselves, as a general rule, ably and well, and rank as high as the highest.
The sooner that our fellow-citizens of other pursuits, especially the sick, learn to place a proper appreciation in this respect upon medical men of our own State, the earlier will justice be awarded to their claims to higher consideration.--The public need to learn better the fact, that it is not alone by attending medical lectures abroad, or by reading medical books by northern or European authors, that our physicians are able to treat disease, but that skill and success, after all, depends mainly upon a practical acquaintance with the diseases of our own climate, with the peculiarities of constitution of our own people, and upon the application of those powers of observation and self-reliance, that dependence upon one's own judgment and action, that constitute essential requisites to the able and discriminating practitioner. The southern constitution must be studied by itself. It is affected differently by our southern climate than is the constitution of the northern or European emigrant who comes to settle among us. Our climate generates causes of disease different from those which prevail at the North or in Europe, and the southerner is attended with different susceptibilities to disease than the unacclimated northerner or European. The modifying influences of climate upon the human constitution, not alone physiologically, but in its various diseases, have not been sufficiently regarded in the treatment pursued. It was the illustrious Dr. Charles Caldwell who first declared boldly, that "those physicians alone who are practically versed in the diseases of the West and South, are qualified either to treat them skilfully and successfully themselves, or to teach pupils so to treat them." In 1844, the able editors of the New Orleans Medical Journal, the only Medical Journal then published in the Southern States, maintained similar ground. This doctrine has been gradually gaining strength ever since. When first announced it was strongly condemned at the North, and branded with the epithet of "State's Rights Medicine;" and time has had but little effect in lessening opposition from that quarter of the American continent. But,
where can you find an unprejudiced physician, who is skilful and experienced alike in northern and southern practice, to deny the truth of the doctrine? Or where is the work on practical medicine, written by a northern author, unacquainted practically with southern diseases, that will fill the requisite of a safe and reliable guide to inexperienced practitioners in the South? Standard works, like that of our accomplished and distinguished countryman, Dr. Wood, or the able and captivating lectures of Dr. Watson, on, of London, are certainly of immense value as text books to students who are seeking for accuracy of symptomatology, correct diagnosis, and pathological researches, but what discriminating and experienced practitioner of the South pretends to follow with any closeness the course of treatment laid down? There is not one of us who, if taken sick with the bilious fever, typhoid, pneumonia, or inflammation of the bowels, would not sooner trust our case to the management of some neighboring physician of skill, than to either Professor Wood or Dr. Watson, even if we could summon them to our bedside with the speed of the electric telegraph. There is, no sectional or national medicine in these sentiments. They are the teachings of experience, truth, nature, science, whose ample range embraces every clime and race, and in our own distracted country acknowledges no distinctions of North or South, East or West.
The present day is more fruitful than any preceding time in the practical results for good of the power of associated effort. I have alluded to its happy effect upon the profession by means of this Society, and its influence in stimulating observation and investigation. But much yet remains to be done. I appeal to the sterling men of the profession of the State to come to the rescue. There are others from whom we may expect in the future, as in the past, indifference or opposition. Never before was there so much need as now for associations like ours. It relates intimately to a profession that demands our heartiest sympathies, our warmest support. Deprive civilization of the medical profession, and the whole face of society would be darkened. The kindly influences it so gently sheds--the bitter passions it so humanely assuages--the sympathy and good will to all mankind it so fondly cherishes and extends--the preservation and restoration of health, and the prolongation of life it is so potent in affecting, would all be lost in the overwhelming gloom, sadness, darkness and despair that would come upon the human race. The light of science would lose one of its brightest rays, benevolence one of its best supports, humanity one of its strongest friends, religion one of its fondest votaries
and firmest supporters; and in the overshadowing darkness that would follow, ignorance, superstition, imposture, fanaticism I pain and disease would lose their most potent check.
It is medicine that comes to relieve at our first helpless cries of infancy--it is medicine that follows us through all the changing scenes and circumstances of life, from the cradle, to the grave--follows man wherever he goes--sick or wounded, in pain or distress, takes him to her bosom, and at last, when about to die, smooths his pillow, and resigns him to his God. In the objects of its study and the number of arts and sciences that are tributary to it, medicine has a wider range than either of the three learned professions. Theology deals with man as a moral and religious being, possessed of reason as well as a conscience and will, and holds him not alone responsible for his acts, but for the motives which prompt them. With the bible in hand, it aims to show man his duty, and to lay before him such arguments, and to surround him with such influences as will cause him to discharge that duty.--Law takes him as a constituent member of society, and responsible to society for his conduct. In his civil and political rights it throws around him the shield of its protection--gives him security for the possession and disposal of his property, and imposes upon him the duty of respecting the rights and property of others. But medicine roams in that wider field, and in those sublime regions whose studies are none other than the laws of God, revealed, not in writing or by tradition, but in the physical creation. In other words, while the physician is always willing to stand next in importance to the minister of God's holy word, it is but just that his claims to consideration should be set above those of the lawyer, for the competent medical man is evidently of more value and importance to society, and more useful to mankind than the lawyer. It is the physician who takes up this wonderful fabric of ours, the human body, explains its structure and functions, shows how it is influenced by the laws of mechanics, chemistry and external conditions, and its relations to the unknown principle of life. Medicine seeks the improvement, preservation, and restoration of man, when diseased, and in behalf of suffering humanity lays under contribution the three great kingdoms of nature, seeks remedies from the bowels of the, earth, from forest and field, as well as from the air and the, sea, in order that man may have health and life. Dealing in its studies with God's greatest work. His self-like creature, man, medicine has most intimate relations, not only with his physical organization, but with his moral feelings and intellectual
nature. But it is said that its study and practice tends to infidelity, and it is sometimes ridiculed, especially by lawyers, for its uncertainty. As to its infidel tendencies it is sufficient to remark, that the most illustrious physicians, in all ages, have been eminent for their piety, while a large portion of the most worthy practitioners are of the same character, and are consistent members of some Christian Church. You must go among the smaller men of our profession to find sceptics and infidels, and not to the intellectual, skilful and learned. Medical science is the handmaid of religion, and its study as well as practice, tends to prove the divine authenticity of the bible, and adds to the glorification of our Heavenly Father.
In relation to its uncertainty, it is less uncertain than law, and as settled as theology. Like law and theology, its fundamental principles are clear enough. But it is no disparagement to medicine to admit that some of its details are more or less uncertain, because it is progressive, and these details are subjects of enquiry and research. Herein constitutes, to a great degree, the difference between learned and unlearned physicians, between the skilful and unskilful practitioner. If medicine were a perfect science, it would cease to be progressive, its votaries would cease to engage in experiments and researches, and the excitement of hopeful labor would be lost in certainty. There is only one Omniscient Being who intuitively knows all things. Man can only acquire, knowledge by exertion and labor, both physical and mental,--it is a law of his existence, and when well regulated is a source of abundant happiness.
In behalf of such a profession it becomes us to yield an increased devotion, and to wage a more vigorous warfare against that spirit of ignorance, arrogance, and dishonesty, which in our own, as well as other professions, is now sweeping as with a besom of destruction over this southern land. War with its demoralizing influences, has left in its train the seed of moral disease. The deadly virus of this fearful demoralization has circulated through the whole organization of society. It has been absorbed into our whole social and political fabric, and into all the professions. Our own has not escaped the poisonous infection, and needs prompt and efficient antidotes. Never was the natural atmosphere so contaminated with the poison of malaria as the moral atmosphere is now polluted with all that is degrading in morals, low in motive, and mean in action. Happy is the man who maintains integrity, cherishes his friendships, and preserves a good conscience amid the surging waves of corruption
now dashing furiously against the foundations of Society, and of moral and religious truth.
Would that there were none of the regular members of oar own profession yielding to the impending storm. But too many of them, forgetful of the high claims of their calling, dishonoring its precepts and principles by degrading habits of thought and conduct, have already disqualified themselves for association with gentlemen, and deserve ostracism from a profession whose legitimate impulses are to scorn vice, hypocrisy and meanness in whatever phase or feature presented. The political depredations which, by the exercise of unwarranted and despotic power, may afflict a people and ruin their material prosperity, but it never justifies a departure from the principles of a gentleman, or from the plain rules of fair and honest dealing between man and man.
As before intimated in this address, it is an innate depravity that gives rise to the hordes of empirics and demagogues that are coming forth more numerously than ever from the regular ranks of our own, as well as other professions. They are preying upon the body politic, and resorting to every species of artifice, trickery and meanness, to secure practice and to advance themselves. From the proverbial quack we always expect such conduct, but for any regular medical practitioner, calling himself a gentleman, to lower himself, as I have already remarked, by unscrupulous means of getting practice, as so many are doing; to degrade himself by underhanded tricks and hypocritical pretensions to superiority of skill in the treatment of disease; or by chiming in with some new-fledged popular fallacy or heresy for the sake of gain, is entitled to more dishonor and contempt at the hands of every honorable man than the English language can express. If, in these days of fashionable departure from such principles of rectitude, any member of this Society belongs to this class of physicians, he should be promptly dealt with by expulsion or otherwise, according to the degree of the offence. It is not so much members we desire as men--noble, high minded men--and scientific practitioners, who scorn to do a mean act, or to use any unworthy means for advancement. We more than ever need members who are reliable, and who will aid us in raising anew the standard of professional elevation, and in resisting that destructive tide of professional demoralization now sweeping over the land to the serious injury of our own as well as other professions.
These are times to try men, and like the solvents of the alchemist, will convert them into dross or gold. Times like these are paralyzing upon the leading members of our's, as
they are upon the best members of other professions. Such men, to their honor be it said, sternly refuse to use means for success now justified it seems by vitiated public sentiment, as seen by the ease, and rapidity in which small men are coming to the surface and controlling the destinies of the community over abler and nobler men, who were not made by the breath of power, or sustained by the heresies of fanaticism, but had justly become the pride and boast of our people by their learning, stern integrity, and long and faithful services. This is owing to the prevailing demoralization and disorganization. This fanaticism, and these heresies, may for awhile continue to spread over this prostrated southern land. The bubbles will last for a short time. These men and their destructive dogmas will have their day. But they will go down so sure as the unchanging laws of nature hold true. Intellect, learning, virtue, and integrity, now commodities in the market, at such a low premium will yet rise in the scale of public favor and appreciation, just so sure as God has ordained cause and effect. The idea of equality, as now understood, embracing that disreputable dogma that levels all things, degrades the professions, and whose withering touch tends to the destruction of all that is honorable in principle, or decent and desirable in life, will fret its allotted hour upon the public stage, and be buried with its authors in one common mass of obloquy and ruin.
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again,
The eternal years of God are her's,
But error wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies amidst her worshippers."
This modern code of honesty and intelligence captivates only the weaker members of the profession. Our sterling men adhere, as a general rule, with unchanging firmness to those old landmarks of virtue, worth and learning which true manhood appreciates, and which must in the future, as in the past, constitute the life and usefulness of this Society and the medical profession. Let us elevate the profession above these derelictions and demoralizations. To do so the more effectually, we must imbue ourselves with more of the spirit of observation, learning and professional devotion. This will the better enable us to avoid mistakes, and to discharge the high duties imposed upon us. It will the better enable us to rub off that rust of inactivity and insidious moth of idleness so prone to gather upon us in these days of indolence and depression. It will foster that diligence and purity of purpose, that devotion to knowledge and
principle which gives advancement to science, and animation, hope and vigor to ourselves. There must be more of reading and study. There is less now, I fear, among the members of the profession, than at any former time. It is true that unavoidable circumstances, in these times of financial pressure, render it sometimes necessary for the practitioner to combine other pursuits with his practice in order to the independent support of himself and family. Such a necessity does not allow as full opportunities as are desired for medical studies and research. But making due allowance for all this, it must not be forgotten that a life of luxury and ease is not the most favorable for attainments and skill in any calling or profession. The greatest discoveries and success in our's, as in other professions, have been reached under more adverse circumstances than any now surrounding us. The profession are not doing as well as they ought and could, even under the depressing influences and discouragements that now meet as on all sides. They do not sufficiently engage in those investigations, experiments, and studies, which, in conjunction with daily practice, must characterize the practitioner who maintains a respectable stand in our always progressive art and science. One is a profession that calls for the constant exercise of all the powers of our moral, physical and intellectual nature. It may be said of it more truly than of any other calling,
"We live in deeds, not years, in thoughts, not breaths,
In feeling, not in figures on a dial.
We should count lime by heart throbs,
He most lives, who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."
We must adopt with cheerfulness, and follow with boldness, Truth, however such a course may conflict with previous opinions, prejudices, or practices. It is in the exercise of this spirit, and upon the accumulating evidence of the last two thousand (2,000) years that our noble profession is based.. The intelligent men of all civilized nations have, within that long period of time, sustained it by their testimony. Such a profession is worthy of our truest homage and devotion. It is true, that now and then we see some regular practitioner abandon legitimate medicine, and give himself up to the delusions of some false medical system that may chance to be sustained by a temporary popularity, but it is generally done at the expense of his honor and principles, and for the purpose of filling his purse. With such men judgment and knowledge are disregarded; honesty is of no value; e pediency and public favor are the inspiring motives. They are
grasping after the golden den fruit, whether it comes in the little pills and infinitesimal solutions of Homoepathy, or is watered from the bubbling fountains of Hydropathy, or is gently fanned by the enlivening currents and passes of Mesmerism and Spiritualism. When I see sensible or educated medical men adopting the foolish ideas of Hahnemann, that most diseases are caused by the itch; that the more you dilute a drop of laudanum the greater will be its power; that the efficacy of a grain of belladonna triturated five times with one hundred grains of the sugar of milk, is more potent than the same grain would be when not thus shaken, I am reminded of the definition of Homeopathy, as given a number of years ago by an anatomical Professor in one of our Eastern Universities. It is as follows:
"Take a little rum
The less you take the better,
Pour it in the lakes
Of Wenner, and of Wetter.
"Dip a spoonful out,
Mind you don't get groggy,
Pour it in the lake
"Stir the mixture well,
Lest it prove inferior,
Then put half a drop
Into Lake Superior.
"Every other day--
Take one drop in water;
You'll be better soon,
Or at least--you ought to."
How different the conduct of these admirable representatives of mental weakness and human folly, from the unswerving professional honesty of physicians, the medical texture of whose minds is composed of undying devotion to truth and medical progress. Our duty in this important relation is well illustrated in the course pursued by the illustrious Dr. William Aspinwall, of Massachusetts, relative to vaccination. After the death of the celebrated Dr. Boylston, the first inoculator for small pox in America, Dr. Aspinwall established large and expensive hospitals in Massachusetts for inoculating the thousands who were constantly flocking to him for protection, by the only means then known, from small
pox. He was fast realizing a handsome fortune in this way, and was very successful in preserving the lives of those entrusted to his care. It was at this time, when he was the observed of all medical observers, that the radiant star of Jenner arose, announcing the glorious discovery that the introduction of a little lymph from the teat of a cow, in the, simple operation of vaccination, would preserve human life, with less risk and suffering than had ever been done by inoculation. How noble was the course of Aspinwall under this blow to his hospitals and prospects for gain. Instead of opposing the discoveries and practice of Jenner, and of advocating in the old practice which harmonized with the public belief, he sacrificed his interests, all his heavy expenditures in erecting accommodations for patients, and brought ruinous loss upon himself, rather than to oppose in any way the progress of truth and science. This noble physician at once gave the experiment a fair trial, acknowledged with promptness its efficacy, relinquished his cherished institutions, and while his own professional brethren were still in doubt and fear of Jenner's practice, he made the public proclamation "that this new inoculation is no sham. It is a success. As a man of humanity and lover of science I rejoice in it, although it will annually take from me a large sum."
Under the invigorating influence of examples like this, and renewed as we have been at this annual meeting in our social, physical and professional natures, let us return home with increased devotion to our profession, and to the various other duties incumbent upon us. He has the purest enjoyment, and is best upheld who bears in his own bosom the sustaining conviction that he is discharging his duty. But to secure this, my professional brethren, we must work, for we must remember, especially in this day of indolence, that labor is as much an element of happiness as food and sleep, and was ordained as naturally for us by our great Author as day and night.
Amid the impending gloom that now obscures our pathway, let us resolve that while clinging to our profession we will not forsake our State. When the cloud grows darkest, and the storm rages strongest, he is the noblest, bravest mariner who clings to the deck, and proudly goes down with the ship. Our good old ship of State is now upon the breakers, and threatened with disaster and ruin. Though we are not pilots we are yet a part of the crew, and must not forsake her in this dark hour of her great peril. With her increasing misfortunes let us rally around our suffering old mother with stronger affections. The climate and soil of
North Carolina are in the highest degree attractive, and well adapted to the various wants of man. Her resources, mineral, manufacturing, commercial and agricultural, are rich and unlimited, and, with her fine forests and fertile fields, offer unsurpassed inducements to the industrious emigrant from Europe. Our people, modest and unostentatious, are renowned for the possession, in a high degree, of those sterling virtues and manly principles which adorn and dignify human character.
If devotion to the cause of the South during the late war was any merit, North Carolina may well challenge a comparison with any of her Southern sisters. Our people not only exhibited less of those sordid affections which caused too many people of the South to prefer a little property and self-accommodation to Southern Independence, but North Carolina sent more soldiers to the field than any other Confederate State. None fought better, if as well. The number killed in battle or wounded, from North Carolina, was greater than the number of killed in battle or wounded from any other State.--These are not random assertions, but the sober language of truth and history, if the deliberate statements of distinguished and reliable functionaries, civil and military, are entitled to credence. For the sake of the unpublished record of North Carolina patriotism and bravery; for the sake of the honor and glory of those heroic deeds that are imperishably connected with the sublime sacrifices and sufferings of our soldiers, living and dead, and whose services can never be sufficiently appreciated, I fear, by those who were at home and out of danger throughout the war; for the sake of all this and much more than this, let justice henceforth be done to North Carolina, and to all the States that acted with her. Let coming historians no longer neglect or refuse to award to her that justice for the services of her sons in the war, which published histories thus far have not done.
It is to be hoped that the condition of our distressed people will improve, and that prosperity and happiness will again abound in our afflicted section. The car of civilization would seem to be rather on the downward than the upward grade, and appears to be gathering speed from her own momentum. It is to be hoped that her wheels will be reversed, and she will again take her former onward and upward course. Never were a people more universally prostrated and ruined by the ravages and desolations of war. Our poverty is much greater, our afflictions far more severe, our trials much more terrible than are known or imagined by the people of the North or of Europe. Out of this night of darkness and
gloom it is cheering to hope Providence will, ere long, lead us. For some wise but mysterious purpose His dispensations have been laid heavily upon us. If we bear His chastening rod aright, trust in Him, have faith in His promises, He will have mercy upon us, and deliver us from these oppressive burdens and sorrows. But it is vain to disregard His laws, or to oppose His decrees.
"There's a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them as we may."
He helps those who help themselves. To lay supinely upon our backs and expect Him to do all the labor which he requires as necessary to our success, and to do nothing ourselves, is a most dangerous hallucination, but one that is, daily paralyzing its millions. Our redemption is mainly in our own hands, and no dispensations of Providence, or triumph of any political party in any coming election will, relieve us of the necessity of that untiring application to business, of that personal exertion and self-reliance, indispensable to our recuperation from ruined fortunes and drooping spirits. The day of our poverty and adversity is not the time for despondence. A people who, like those of the South, possessed and practised during the four struggling years of the war, in the noblest degree and sublimest features, the virtues of fortitude, firmness, courage, self-reliance and heroism, will not succomb to despondency but with stout hearts and strong arms, will work out nobly their own deliverance.